Sexual violence awareness, help available for victims

teal ribbonOne in every four college women will be a victim of rape or attempted rape, said Karla Docter, YWCA senior director of sexual violence prevention and response, during a presentation on campus earlier this month.

YWCA, located at 2460 N.W. 39 St, provides crisis services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking for Oklahoma County.

“We have programs from prevention, intervention to follow up care at the YWCA,”

Directors and advocates of the organization spoke to an intimate group of 11 earlier this month during National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.

Docter said many times victims confuse compliance with consent. “To comply is to go along with something because you don’t feel like you have any other option.”

She said that people need to understand the difference.

“We work to make the shift from the victim blaming themselves to redirecting the blame to the person who chose to commit the crime,” Docter said.

Many assaults go unreported because the victim fears the perpetrator, the victim feels ashamed, the victim feels the assault was minor, and because the victim feels like law enforcement couldn’t do anything about it and that nobody would believe them.

If ever a person confides in another person with details of a sexual assault, the listener should be mindful of  body language, make the victim feel safe, be respectful, reinforce that a crime occurred and that the victim did nothing wrong, Docter said.

“We want to put the control back into the victim’s hands.” She said that responders should not blame, judge, or rush the victim.

The YWCA created the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program, a specialized program was created in response to the lack of proper treatment of sexual assault victims, said Brandi Horne, RN and YWCA director of forensic exam programs.

The victims frequently wait long hours in emergency rooms because they don’t have visible injuries, said Horne. In the time, victims can be made to feel uncomfortable by law enforcement and medical personnel who may not be trained to work with sexual assualt victims, Horne said.

SANE responds to victims contacting 911, the YWCA rape crisis hotline, or to victims who go to an emergency room.

By partnering with Alliance Health Midwest Hospital, Integris Baptist Medical Center and Integris Southwest Medical Center, SANE provides victims with medical screening exams, private space for waiting and examination, and prophylactic medication, used to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, Horne said.

By partnering with these hospitals, there is no cost to the victim or the YWCA, Horne said.

If a victim goes to a hospital not a partner with the YWCA, they can be transported to a partnering hospital or if the situation prevents it, a registered nurse and victim-advocate can use a travel kit to perform the medical exam wherever the victim is.

Docter said that YWCA does as much as they can to help victims of sexual assault.

“In house we provide one-on-one case management, whatever their needs are, we are going to try to help find the resources for them,” Docter said, “whether it’s immediately after the assault, or two or three years later, or 20 years later.”

If you, or anyone you know are a victim of sexual assault, contact 911, the sexual assault hotline at 405-943-7273, the domestic violence hotline at 405-917-9922, or the YWCA at 405-948-1770.



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